Pak sticks to offensive tactics

In 2013, the statistics of the Pakistan army supporting terrorist attacks and ceasefire violations in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) has been recorded at about 20 in January, 24 in February, 29 in March, 28 in April, 27 in May and around 20 incidents in June.These are sure indicators of renewed moral, material and monetary support by Pak army for upping the ante in J&K and also to other parts of India. All these new trends and actions are part of a pattern which began in 2012, aimed at stepping up even further after American coalition forces leave Afghanistan in 2014. Indian restraint is emboldening Pak’s military-mullah combo all the more. On 20 May 2013, J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah interacted with the media at the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia, New Delhi. I pointed out a pattern of renewed Pak-sponsored terrorism in J&K since 2012, after two very successful tourist-filled summers and also as a build- up in preparation for 2014, when the US would exit from Afghanistan.

I also mentioned that Hafiz Saeed had issued a threat of stepping up terrorism in the Valley and attacks on sarpanches had been stepped up. Abdullah outrightly denied my contention on both counts. He dismissed what I referred to as a build-up of cross-LoC incidents as ‘seasonal’ and said attacks on sarpanches were nothing new or worrisome.

While attacks on sarpanches began in 2012, on 4 April 2013, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) issued fresh threats that they would face dire consequences if they did not resign from their posts. A brief look at Pak-sponsored terrorism in J&K in 2012 is relevant. The build-up following the melting of snow and opening of mountain passes coincided with 48 terrorist attacks/ceasefire violations. These were against the army, para-military forces, J&K police and civil populace. On 24 June 2013, a day ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s visit, eight soldiers were killed and 16 injured when terrorists ambushed an army convoy near Hyderpora on the outskirts of Srinagar. While the Kashmiri ‘Hizbul Mujahideen’ claimed responsibility for the terror attack, police investigations reportedly revealed that it was launched by Pakistani LeT.

Police identified LeT commander Mohammad Qasim, a Pakistani national, who has been active in south Kashmir since the last three years and has been also operating on the bypass stretch of the Srinagar-Jammu highway.

On 7 June 2013, barely two days after Nawaz Sharif took oath as Pakistan’s prime minister and declared to ‘progressively pursue’ normalcy in ties with India while actively exploring the possibility of resolving outstanding issues including Kashmir, Pakistani troops resorted – without any provocation whatsoever – to heavy fire on Indian posts along the LoC in Subzian subsector of Poonch with automatics and rocket-propelled grenades.

On 24 May, Pakistani troops opened fire on Indian positions along the LoC in the Tutmari Gali sector, injuring a Brigadier and two soldiers. On 8 July 2013, Pakistani terrorists detonated an IED targeting the Indian army’s civilian porters while they were carrying supplies from an army post to another in the Sabzian-Mandi belt along the LoC. In May 2013, porters were intercepted and assaulted by some Border Action Team (BAT) personnel from across the border who also snatched supplies from them. In early July 2013, a Pakistani intruder, trying to cross over to India, was killed when the IED he was carrying went off.

On 15 May, security forces had neutralised a militant hideout in the Kainiyar forest, Anantnag District and recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition. Another militant hideout was neutralised and a huge cache of arms and ammunition recovered from it in Trehgam area of Kupwara district. A month later on 16 June, police cracked a major network of Hizbul Mujahedeen in the J&K police department with the arrest of four police constables. In early July 2012, the police sealed the property of APHC-G leader and chairman of People’s League, Ghulam Mohammad Khan Sopori, for funding the militancy through Hawala channels and expected to seal property of few more persons allegedly involved in funding militancy in J&K. The police also neutralised a recruitment module of LeT and arrested seven militants from Sopore town and its adjoining areas in Baramulla District (Avtar Krishen, The Mandate, 19 July 2012).

On 15 March, the BJP state spokesperson Jitendra Singh said Pakistan National Assembly resolution, which condemned the execution of Parliament attacker, Afzal Guru and demanded the return of his body to his relatives, had exposed the dubious nexus of the ruling National Conference, PDP, Kashmiri separatists. As in some cases in the past decades of army fighting Pak-sponsored terror in J&K, positive fallouts of nine effective operations get severely marred by one going wrong. On 30 June, in a cordon and search operation in Bandipore district, the army killed two local youth.
While Sharif may well be trying to improve relations with India, it is very clear that Pak army does not at all want to do so and that his writ does not run. Both New Delhi and Srinagar will be well advised to take firm steps to prevent further step up of terrorism from Pakistan after exit of US troops from Afghanistan as planned by Pakistan’s military-mullah combo.
New Delhi as well as Abdullah and his government should have no doubts about the plans Pak army and  terrorists trained by it have of stepping up terrorism in the Kashmir valley after the Americans draw down their forces/ withdraw from Afghanistan.

If during the presence of  US coalition forces in Afghanistan there have been very active summers in Kashmir in 2012 and 2013 as well as in earlier years, then after the US withdrawl, all terrorist groups will enjoy much more of freedom of movement to up the ante both in Afghanistan and in J&K. Attacks by Pakistani terrorist groups or their proxies in India like ‘Indian Mujahedeen’, or whichever else, will also very likely be ratcheted in other parts of India, particularly in view of the forthcoming elections and the larger Pakistani plan.
The author is a defence and strategic analyst
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